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Mary Hutton Recipient of the Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award 2015

In more than 20 years since Free the Bears was established by Perth grandmother Mary Hutton, there have been very few moments where the focus has been away from our precious bears. But today there is a spotlight shining brightly on the greatest hero in this story, our dedicated Founder Mary Hutton. And we are besides ourselves to share such exciting news!

JMARCHIG2This week we were informed that Mary has been declared the winner of the prestigious Jeanne Marchig Animal Welfare Award 2015.  This award by the UK-based Marchig Animal Welfare Trust recognises individuals working in the field of animal welfare resulting in significant improvements for animals either nationally or internationally. The award was established in 1989 by Madame Jeanne Marchig of Geneva, who personally had a deep concern for nature and animals. The objects of the Trust are to protect animals and to promote and encourage practical work in preventing animal cruelty and the relief of animal suffering.

In announcing the 2015 winner of the award, Chairman of the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, Les Ward, describes Mary as a standout choice on behalf of their board of Trustees.

“There was a large volume of nominations from all over the world, with many worthy candidates. However, in the end it was a unanimous decision that Mary Hutton receive this year’s award. Through Mary’s voluntary leadership, Free the Bears has grown into one of the world’s most effective international bear rescue organisations. Mary’s journey with Free the Bears is an inspirational one, built from the start and throughout on compassion, hard work, sheer determination, tireless dedication and a genuine desire to bring about change for suffering bears around the world.  The Trustees believe that her journey will inspire others harbouring similar desires to effect change.  Both Mary and her organisation Free the Bears are worthy recipients of this award and the Trustees send them our sincere congratulations, as well as our grateful thanks for all they have done and continue to do for the animals.”

Normally working behind the scenes from her home office in Perth, Mary rarely accepts credit for her work alone without giving recognition to the support of her dedicated Free the Bears team. Mary has described it as an honor for her team to receive such a prestigious award for animal welfare.

“How privileged I feel to receive recognition for such an admired award all over the world on behalf of our organization. I’d like to personally thank everybody at the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust for acknowledging our work in such a marvelous way. I sincerely hope that in accepting this award it inspires more people to act on behalf of our beautiful animals. I feel lucky to be recognized amongst many others who have made a difference to preserve and enrich the lives of animals throughout the world. That is just such a great thing to be acknowledged for.”

The award takes the form of a US$20,000 grant towards an animal welfare project of Mary’s choice. Mary says that the grant couldn’t have come at a better time with the need to urgently expand our bear sanctuary in Laos.

“We’ve had eight new bears rescued in Laos in the past few months and our existing sanctuary is bursting at the seams with growing numbers of bears. This much-needed grant will enable us to purchase new land to expand our sanctuary facilities and care for many more bears who are currently being exploited and need a safe and loving home in Laos.” 

HELP US TO EXPAND

With 8 new arrivals to our sanctuary in 2015, this has been our busiest year ever in Laos- and the need for a second sanctuary is growing more urgent by the day. You can help us by donating or purchasing from our online store and we'll make sure that these bears and any others in need of a safe home are given everything they need to enjoy a second chance at life.

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